Don’t think she’s alone, either

We’re living in a time when many masks and pretenses are dropping.  In this case, it’s because one side believes they’ve achieved enough power to no longer need hiding:

Among her elite social circles in Washington, DC, and the Hamptons, Washington Post religion writer Sally Quinn did not keep her use of black magic a secret. In a lengthy and glowing profile, the Washingtonian reveals that Quinn’s fascination and outright use of the dark arts were just another part of her wide and varied social scene.

***

Ouija boards, astrological charts, palm reading, talismans—Quinn embraces it all. And yes, she has been in contact with her husband since his passing. Through a medium. Repeatedly.

Some friends have voiced reservations that Quinn is now showing all her cards, so to speak. “Don’t play up the voodoo too much,” one implored. But Sally does nothing by halves. (emphasis added) She reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.  ((Since she believes she was responsible, shouldn’t this be tantamount to admission of assault and murder?  After all, we’re told repeatedly to accept the sincerely held beliefs of everyone…  — Jemison))

Quinn co-founded a regular column on religion in the Post that later morphed into a standalone website, but neglected to mention these little tidbits until it came time to write her memoir.  Thus, under the cloak of ‘journalism,’ she published many columns seeking to undermine orthodox Christian beliefs and their proponants.  Contrast this approach to that of the late Charlie Reese, who made a point of ensuring his readers knew where he was coming from by publishing periodical columns about it.

[Note: I recommend regular readers here to look at the three linked columns in the previous sentence.  I read Reese’s columns as a young adult.  He, along with Thomas Sowell, caused me to think deeply about governance and economics, though they are far being from my only influences.  Reese’s transparency about his worldview was the inspiration for the “About” tab at the top of this blog, where you can get a basic overview of where I’m coming from.  It’s a practice I think should be standard among writers who aspire to be more than mere propagandists.]

Why would Quinn conceal her beliefs as a columnist for a decade, only revealing them when it was time to cash out?  Likely because for that decade she was but one of many agents undermining the historical value systems of this nation, an effort moving much swifter and closer to its goals than the now-revered 1960s.  That Quinn felt free to “tell all” in this month’s book shows two things, I think:

  1. She does not fear social, much less physical, repercussion
  2. She and her publisher believe there is a large audience for what she now says openly

Keep in mind this woman moved in the highest social circles of Washington D.C.  According to a reviewer, the memoir contains many examples of highly selfish, manipulative and admittedly demonic-spirited behavior.  While the reviewer occasionally seems to cringe at the material, she concludes by quoting the author’s expectation of respect, and calls it “courageous.” — the same label applied to anyone who publicly jettisons and/or attacks Christian beliefs.   D.C seems filled to overflowing with such “courage” today, and its true colors are showing through.

Does it become more apparent now why I’ve long nicknamed that city “Mordor?”

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

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Hope in the storm

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to start her run Sunday up the spine of Florida–a State I have many ties to.  It’s a unique display of the destructive chaos of a fallen universe.  I don’t put much stock in leaders who often jump to declare individual disasters as specific judgments from God for specific failures of a group of people.  The Bible certainly confirms He has done so in the past.  And we live in an age literally hell-bent on thumbing our nose at God.  But I believe in this age of Grace we now live since the sacrifice of Christ, these “acts of God” are less often conscious action on His part than they are inaction to stop the built-in consequences of a creation frustrated under the weight of sin.

There are two things to consider here from God’s view.  First, the world increasingly rejects anything to do with Him.  Second, times of catastrophe focus us on what’s truly important and necessary far more than do times of calm and comfort.  So rather than seeing God as a cosmic killjoy looking for excuses to hurl lightning bolts at wrongdoers, I believe the better analogy is one of a rejected Lover who has sadly granted our world’s desire to leave His presence and prescriptions, and as a consequence lose His protection as well.

But that’s the “big picture,” so to speak.  The wondrous part of all this is that God doesn’t just deal with humanity.  Or a specific nation.  Or a specific city.  He treats with each of us individually, desiring a personal relationship based on reciprocal love.  This is unlike any “religious” conception on earth: the Creator desiring individual communion with His created.  Despite humanity’s sinful nature He cares for us and hears us — our needs, wants, fears, and confessions.  Just this week a family I know was stranded far from home with a broken car well after business hours.  Yet God answered their pleas for help with an amazing turn of events that brought the right people (including an off-duty mechanic) and provided the resources to get them safely on their way again.

So in the midst of the storm; in the midst of the effects of the rule of this present darkness, we all have the privilege to seek shelter through prayer in the love of the Father, made possible by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s not simply a “get out of jail free” card, or some kind of magic spell to ward off tragedy.  No, this presence He offers provides comfort, perspective, and strength regardless of what happens physically:

(King) Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.  But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

That is the comfort and strength I’m talking about: the confidence to trust God, obey Him, and let Him work all things for the good of those who love HimIt may not be the “good” we think we want.  “Unfair” things will happen.  We may lose our jobs.  Our earthly possessions.  Even our life.  But for those who love God and trust Him, any and all of that pales in comparison to the eternal joy that awaits us when we see Him face to face.

Everyone reading this is facing storms.  It may not be a Category 4 hurricane, but we each have pressures that threaten to crush us.  Know there is a God who cares for you, who is far more powerful than any storm you could face, and who desires what He knows is the best for you.  Ask Him for peace.  For calm in the midst of the storm.  And    *Even If*    it seems the storm has taken everything away from you, know that if your trust is in God you already have everything you need.  There is nothing that can take that away from you.

Nothing.

May the Lord bless and keep us all, according to His good will.

Choose your own message

While the Babylon Bee is a satire site (a very good one, in fact — enough that I’ve added it to the sidebar on the right), this entry strikes a little too close to home how many people approach the Bible these days:

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GRAND RAPIDS, MI—In a move designed to help students of the Word carefully impose their own theology and personal experiences onto the text, Zondervan released its all-new Choose Your Own Adventure Bible to widespread public acclaim Wednesday morning.

Boasting over three hundred different endings, the CYOA Bible allows readers to guide and bend the narrative through all its various twists and turns in order to shape the Bible’s theology to suit their own tastes, biases, and prejudices.

I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a kid, but their approach hardly makes for sound Biblical exegesis.  The Babylon Bee does a great job highlighting/ridiculing current issues in the Church.  It’s worth checking out, as is the cartoon site Adam4d.  (Note: Adam Ford, the creator of Adam4d, also runs the Babylon Bee.)

Leading the little ones astray

And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.  (Luke 17:1-2)

The post is also known as Reason #34,892 to stop entrusting your children’s indoctrination education to others:

An elite charter school in California has been rocked by scandal since the end of the last school year, when a kindergarten teacher read her class a pair of books advocating transgender ideology, and a male kindergartener was reintroduced to the class as a girl.

Now first-graders at Rocklin Academy Gateway risk a trip to the principal’s office if they refer to their transgender classmate by the wrong name or gender pronoun, said Karen England, executive director of the Capitol Resource Institute, a pro-family group based in Sacramento.

“There was a little girl who had been in class with the little boy all last year,” Ms. England said. “They’re in different classes now, but she saw him on the playground yesterday and called him by his name. The little girl was told ‘you can’t do that, his name is this name,’ and ‘you need to call him a “her.”’ Then she was called to the principal’s office.”

We had this quaint notion about thirty years ago that there was a “culture war” going on in this country.  That is no longer the case.  There is a spiritual — and all to often, physical — war for the soul of this nation under way.  Six year olds have enough to be confused about as they observe the world around them without adults trying to teach them there are upteen numbers of “genders,” and that one can flow from one to another.

In a more civilized era we’d have called this what it is: child abuse.  Anyone with this agenda should not be allowed within 100 miles of society’s most vulnerable minds and hearts.

What are we doing to protect those hearts?  What are we doing to push back against the present — and growing — darkness of this world?

Doing the small stuff right first

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?”  Luke 16:10-12

Victor Davis Hanson notes the all-too-familiar scene of elected leaders pontificating about speculative global matters while failing utterly to address the needs of those closer to home, who put them in office in the first place:

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg used to offer all sorts of cosmic advice on the evils of smoking and the dangers of fatty foods and sugary soft drinks.  Bloomberg also frequently pontificated on abortion and global warming, earning him a progressive audience that transcended the boroughs of New York.

But in the near-record December 2010 blizzard, Bloomberg proved utterly incompetent in the elemental tasks for which he was elected: ensuring that New Yorkers were not trapped in their homes by snowdrifts in their streets that went unplowed for days.

The Bloomberg syndrome is a characteristic of contemporary government officials.  When they are unwilling or unable to address pre-modern problems in their jurisdictions – crime, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate transportation – they compensate by posing as philosopher kings who cheaply lecture on existential challenges over which they have no control.  …

We have become an arrogant generation that virtue-signals that we can change the universe when in reality we cannot even run an awards ceremony, plow snow, fix potholes, build a road or dam, or stop inner-city youths from murdering one another.

Governors who cannot build a reservoir have little business fantasizing about 200-mph super trains.

It’s said that “all politics is local.”  The failure of our self-righteous ruling class to address some very basic responsibilities is one of the main factors propelling the rise of the likes of Trump.  There are encouraging signs, however, that some in our capitols are listening to the rising anger; for instance, the call by 10 U.S. Senators and a number of Representatives to curtail or forego the standard Congressional recess in August in order to get some actual work done.

What a concept…

Note to the GOP leadership: it’s not gone unnoticed that you’ve spent more time fighting the president than trying to enable the agenda that got him elected.  You may think you’re blocking a fluke presidency.  In reality, if you stymie Trump you’re going to like what comes next even worse.  In martial arts I was taught to use three escalating approaches to stop a threat: “nice” (evasion and warning), “not-so nice” (evasion and inflicting a “stinger”), and “nasty,” involving serious physical injury to the assailant when all other options had failed and the threat had become critical enough to justify serious violence.  The Tea Party was “nice” and civil; they were unfairly demonized and marginalized.  Trump is the “not-so-nice” second attempt to get the government’s attention.  God help us all if we arrive at “nasty.”

If a Congress cannot pass a balanced budget on time, or a Mayor cannot deal with large-scale violence in their city, or a State legislature cannot pass a budget at all, then these people have no business occupying their current positions, much less running for higher office.  (And I repeat: running for an office should require the candidate not currently hold an elective office, since modern campaigning inevitably results in shortchanging current duties.) We, the people, need to stop looking at the seniority and patronage of our individual representatives, and hold them collectively responsible for our nation’s current woes.  In fact, we need to borrow a phrase from The Donald himself:

You’re fired!”

Poverty and the “success sequence”

George Will examines how failing to follow the “success sequence” often leads to devastating poverty:

The success sequence, previously suggested in research by, among others, Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution, is this: First get at least a high-school diploma, then get a job, then get married, and only then have children. Wang and Wilcox, focusing on Millennials ages 28 to 34, the oldest members of the nation’s largest generation, have found that only 3 percent who follow this sequence are poor. …

One problem today, Wilcox says, is the “soul-mate model of marriage,” a self-centered approach that regards marriage primarily as an opportunity for personal growth and fulfillment rather than as a way to form a family. Another problem is that some of the intelligentsia see the success sequence as middle-class norms to be disparaged for being middle-class norms. And as AEI social scientist Charles Murray says, too many of the successful classes, who followed the success sequence, do not preach what they practice, preferring “ecumenical niceness” to being judgmental.

In healthy societies, basic values and social arrangements are not much thought about. They are “of course” matters expressing what sociologists call a society’s “world-taken-for-granted.” They have, however, changed since President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed “unconditional” war on poverty. This word suggested a fallacious assumption: Poverty persisted only because of hitherto weak government resolve regarding the essence of war — marshalling material resources. But what if large causes of poverty are not matters of material distribution but are behavioral — bad choices and the cultures that produce them? If so, policymakers must rethink their confidence in social salvation through economic abundance.

Reversing social regression using public policies to create a healthy culture is akin to “nation-building” abroad, an American undertaking not recently crowned with success.

As Will points out, those who want to escape poverty need mentoring at least as much as they do resources.  Knowing what the norms are higher on the socio-economic ladder is essential to making progress.  Such mentoring should occur naturally in two-parent families.

But those seem to be an endangered species in the United States.

Starting a slide?

My family has attended Southern Baptist churches our entire marriage (25 years next month), and I’ve frequently taught adult Bible study on Sunday mornings.

It now appears I will frequently have to point out how the translation favored in the study literature is no longer faithful to a literal translation of the ancient text.

The (Christian Standard Bible) now translates the term anthropos, a Greek word for “man,” in a gender-neutral form 151 times, rendering it “human,” “people,” and “ones.” The previous edition ((Holman Christian Standard Bible)) had done this on occasion; the new revision adds almost 100 more instances. “Men of Israel” becomes “fellow Israelites;” when discussing Jesus’s incarnation the “likeness of men” becomes “likeness of humanity.” The CSB translates the term adelphoi, a Greek word for “brother” in a gender-neutral form 106 times, often adding “sister.” “Brotherly love” is translated “love as brothers and sisters.”

The gender-neutralizing pattern is also present in its translation of the Old Testament…

The SBC is America’s largest Protestant denomination and one of its most conservative. If its leaders and members are tolerating a softer, more inclusive approach to gender, it might be a bellwether of things to come in the culture war over gender.

When the SBC was more about discipleship than it was about being “seeker friendly” (in other words, before Rick Warren), it took the time to teach scripture in the context of its era in history.  Yes, the past was largely male-dominated in terms of language; get over it.  That very fact showcases how Christianity, far from subjugating women, actually improved their status within Christian fellowship and eventually within society as a whole.

That will no longer be so apparent with the “new” translation.  I didn’t like it when SBC literature switched to the Holman Christian Standard version; now they’ve tipped their full hand with the revised in-house CSV.  Modifying scripture to conform to modern sensibilities is not a good sign.  We are told to call on God as “Father,” not as “Parent.”  I’m sure the CSV hasn’t changed that yet, but if it’s changing anything at all it’s only a matter of time.

A church either worships the God who created us in His image, or worships a god made in our image.  When a denomination starts to resemble the world in small ways, it’s usually not long before they start to resemble it in large ways.  The SBC already split once over this kind of thing.  Now it appears that the conservative side is no longer conserving as much.  .

I’ll continue with my English Standard Version and my wife’s parallel Bible — and now I’ll be watching my own denomination and its teachings very closely.  This may easily be a turn down a disastrous road.  If that becomes the case, my family will find an off-ramp to a fellowship that is “rightly handling the word of truth.”